It’s time for fresh peas! We are likely to see Sugar snap, Snow peas and English or shelling peas at the farmers markets. Snow peas have a flat, edible pod but they are tastier when cooked or sliced thin crosswise if you’re eating them raw. English or shelling pea pods are thin but tough and not edible, so the peas need to be removed or shelled before eating. Sugar snap, my personal favorite, is a cross between Snow and English but their pods are plump, crispy, juicy and edible.
Since I use frozen peas most of the year, it’s nice to have them fresh now and use them differently. This Spring I’ve been teaching several classes on Provencal cuisine. The most iconic dish of Provence is Bouillabaisse from Marseille. It’s expensive to make because a mountain of seafood is needed and saffron as well. But the way they serve the dish is very typical in French cuisine. The broth is served separately with bread, to be eaten on it’s own first. Then the seafood is served on a large platter to be eaten on it’s own. Let’s take this idea and use vegetables instead of seafood and feature our fresh peas! You can use the shelling peas or a container of Snow or Sugar Snap peas. If you don’t have saffron, that’s ok. Make the dish anyway. The wine and the herb bundle make the most difference in the flavor of the dish. I would opt for the 2 cups of wine, especially if you’re not using the saffron. Olive oil’s nutrition is best realized raw, right out of the bottle. So give your finished dish a nice glug for your health! Enjoy!
By Chef Kelly Unger
About 1 ½ pounds small red potatoes
3 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 ½ cups peas, shelled or a medium container of Sugar Snap or Snow peas
About 36 pearl onions, peeled or 1 medium onion, chopped
1 teaspoon dried savory
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon herbs de Provence
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1-2 fresh tomatoes chopped or 1 can diced tomatoes
Salt and black pepper and olive oil
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed
About 5 cups of water plus more if needed
1-2 cups of white wine or rose
A pinch of saffron
A small bunch of fresh thyme, a bay leaf and a sprig of fresh rosemary, tied in a bundle
4 eggs, poached, over easy or sunny side up to top finished dish
Place the potatoes, carrots, celery, garlic, herb bundle, savory, herbs, lemon, onions, tomatoes, salt, and pepper in a large pot with the water and wine and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for about 10 minutes. Add the peas and cannellini beans and simmer for another 15 minutes, until everything is tender. Remove the herb bundle. Add a good glug of olive oil and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary. Spoon broth into a bowl and serve with bread. Serve the vegetable in individual bowls topped with a poached egg. Enjoy!